Fast-moving vehicular traffic and poor road signage near healthcare establishments are adding to woes of visitors to many private and government-run hospitals in the city.
A regular visitor to MIOT Hospital in Manapakkam said that as Mount Poonamallee Road bends a few meters before the hospital, it is difficult for pedestrians to anticipate the oncoming vehicles. As there is no facility for pedestrians such as a zebra crossing or signal, people are forced to dart across the road. “There is not even a traffic policeman. The construction work at the petrol bunk nearby reduces visibility,” he said.
Further down on the same road in Porur is Sri Ramachandra University Hospital. Though the road is wider here and a bay has been created for buses going towards Poonamallee, crossing the road to reach the hospital remains difficult as the pelican signal often malfunctions. Since vehicles routinely violate the signal, people are forced to run across the road.
The Jawaharlal Nehru Road-Anna Main Road junction in K.K.Nagar has always been a difficult stretch to cross and many times accidents have been reported there. There are two major hospitals near the junction – the ESI Hospital and the Government Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine (GIRM), which is frequented by persons with disabilities. Though signals are provided, most vehicles violate them leading to accidents.
According to doctors of GIRM, persons accompanying patients have been victims of road traffic accident on several occasions. With the commencement of work on Metro Rail the situation has worsened.
Hospital authorities had sought building a three-way subway on the lines of the one on Anna Salai near the Wallajah Road junction but with ramps to provide access for wheel-chair users. While Anna Main Road comes under the purview of the Chennai Corporation, Jawaharlal Nehru Road comes under the jurisdiction of the Highways Department. According to Corporation officials, the issue would be addressed only after the Metro Rail work is completed.
The situation is no different in front of Government Royapettah Hospital. The road forks near the hospital resulting in traffic snarls for most part of the day. This makes it difficult for pedestrians to cross the road, let alone patients.
A regular commuter from Tiruvallur, S. Aruna, said that every day she sees patients hopping across the road in front of Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital. “The peak hour is between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. when most of the patients arrive from outside the city. Even if they are brought by stretcher on the platform, when they have to cross the road they have to be assisted by others. It is agonising to watch them make their way. Even the policemen are of little help,” she said. “The pedestrian subway is of little help as these people have disabilities and are unable to climb the steps.”
The only subway which has ramps is the one outside the Government Kilpauk Hospital on Poonamallee High Road. Road medians also prevent pedestrians from crossing the busy stretch.
A senior traffic police official said that instructions are in place to give top priority to pedestrians and patients. “Additional police personnel can be stationed outside major hospitals in case of need. The problem with introducing pedestrian signals is that many of these hospitals are located within 150 metres of a traffic junction. Introducing another signal would make the pedestrian walkway unsafe. Better traffic regulation can be more effective,” he added.